O’Brien warns of more coastal pollution and collapse of Irish Water

29th July, 2015

I believe  that the bathing water pollution long suffered by the people of Rush could become a feature for all coastal towns in north Dublin. Below is a a statement i made, before the public protest in Rush for the much delayed sewage treatment connection to Portrane treatment plant :

It is heartening to see people getting out marching for their environment and their community, which has been neglected for far too long. All those involved in organising this protest  should be acknowledged and I hope it leads to sustained pressure on Fingal County Council that will help ensure that there are no further delays in connecting Rush with the waste water treatment plant in Portrane.

Joe at a public protest in Rush for the  delayed sewage treatment connection to Portrane treatment plant

Joe at a public protest in Rush for the delayed sewage treatment connection to Portrane treatment plant.

It’s important to point out that there are also broader issues at play here that are relevant to other coastal communities in north Dublin and indeed for the whole country. It might surprise people to learn that already this month there were four days when pollution incidents in Donabate, Portrane, Loughshinny, Skerries, Balbriggan and Portmarnock made the bathing waters there unsafe to use. It’s unacceptable that in the month of July – perhaps the most popular month for swimming – all our bathing waters along the coast have been unusable for a considerable period of time. So even where the Council has deemed wastewater treatment as adequate our bathing waters are still getting seriously polluted. Our wastewater treatment systems do not have the capacity to deal with the heavy falls of rain that are becoming increasingly frequent. The result is that they are being flooded and sewage is entering the sea all along the coast. So it’s now very evident that all along the Fingal coast our wastewater treatment systems need further upgrading if they are going to cope with the twin challenge of increasing populations and heavier rainfall. The planned giant sewage plant at Clonsaugh is not the answer and is far from risk free. Our Blue Flags are also at increasing risk and I think the people of my hometown of Skerries were shocked and disappointed that we lost our Blue Flag this year.

The other big issue that this protest highlights is the sick monster that is Irish Water. There must be serious concerns now about its financial viability given the low level of people paying their water and waste water treatment bills. We in the Green Party have proposed that the investment in our water and wastewater infrastructure which is urgently needed across the country should now be funded by a combination of central government and EU funds. People should only be charged for water after they have used a much more generous and reasonable daily allowance.

Irish Water needs serious reform and has been an example of how not to do things. However, if it collapsed now I would be concerned that all the money invested would be lost and communities all along the coast and indeed all over the country would have to tolerate polluted waters and unsafe drinking water on an increasingly frequent basis.  The current system of charges is the worst in every regard in that it is neither fair nor does it encourage people to conserve our precious resource.

I would also like to draw your  attention to the fact that Fingal County Council are accepting submission until July 28th on potential new bathing waters in the county:

If you wish to propose your favourite beach/river etc as a new bathing water site or comment on an existing site please contact Fingal County Council by email at bathingwaters@fingal.ie or by post.

For more information contact Joe at 087-9608540 or joefingalgreen@gmail.com